- Published: December 3, 2004
- Written by Bryan Krantz
The metal skiff had been green some years ago but the paint had worn away from constant use. When the skiff was new it worked the treacherous waters of the Atchafalaya River with its swift currents and whirlpools. A sun darkened thin man used the boat to commute between his worn pick-up truck and a larger boat containing the tarred hoop nets he used to fish on Whiskey Bay. Now, some years later the skiff was used as a base of operations for emptying crawfish nets and traps he set along the banks of the large pond created on the lowest portion of his pasture land at the edge of the Atchafalaya Basin. The water of the pond varied from knee deep to chest deep as he walked slowly towing the boat by a yellow nylon rope attached to the bow. Several five-gallon buckets in the boat contained cut up fish or old chicken parts for bait. Each wire mesh crawfish trap was emptied into a red plastic sack and the bait replaced. At even intervals along the bank steel d-shaped spring loaded leg traps were baited for crawfish predators. Each day in addition to the crawfish he would gather coons, mink, nutria and an occasional bobcat from the traps as he made his rounds. On some days when the weather wasn't to harsh a small boy accompanied him as a passenger in the skiff with the buckets and sacks and assorted collection of animals. He was rugged and ruff to match the physical work he had done throughout his life. He spoke English but was much more at home in the French dialect of the Acadians that most of his generation spoke. His name, Onizeme, is an oddity in today's world but fit well with his time. He was quiet, but a beacon of security for all those who knew him.